Seed World

Sharing Information Creates a Culture of Trust

Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

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“Information is the resolution of uncertainty.”, Claude Shannon

Claude Shannon was a famed Michigan-born mathematician who published the revolutionary The Mathematical Theory of Communication in 1948. This work created the field of information theory and changed how the world thought about information sharing.

Shannon challenged the notion that communication is just the dissemination of information. It’s more about what you could share, don’t share and do share. It’s about transparency and completeness of information and how access to that information is granted.

Given our tagline is Delivering Trust Through TransparencyTM, understanding information sharing is critically important to me and team at Gro Alliance!

Think about this in terms of current events. Without the sharing of complete information, anonymous social media users quickly rush to fill the information void with whatever they believe or suits their needs. The same problem is created when opinions are formed before all relevant information is known. People take one snapshot in time or just the first piece of news they receive and change their entire worldview as a result. Humans are not good at determining if they have enough information to form an opinion, especially when they aren’t actively trying to gather all the information they could.

Leaders need to pay especially close attention to this. What is shared and what isn’t is critical when change is happening in your organization and industry. This can be uncomfortable whether it’s positive or negative. Some are worried that if employees know there is success that they’ll want more from the company. Others worry that if the news is negative employees will be concerned about layoffs and look for other jobs. Their solution is usually to share less information. Some leaders believe this gives them more power.  The opposite is true.

A lack of information creates uncertainty, and no one is comfortable with uncertainty!  

Employees and competitors will fill in the information gaps with their own assumptions and the rumor mill starts. Ultimately, withholding information erodes trust and fractures relationships.

The solution is simple, but hard to execute. Share all you can!

Some things can’t be shared due to confidentiality issues, but in all other cases, err on the side of openness and transparency. This practice will build up trust and encourage more open communication between employees and across all areas of your organization. The goal is to create a culture where comfortable conversations about the business and employee performance are normal. This reduces anxiety and allows the entire organization to function as a truly connected team.